TEXAS: Past efforts to strengthen Texas’ electric grid and regulatory oversight have failed, but as hearings on last week’s outages begin today, state lawmakers say they have no choice but to take action. (Austin American-Statesman)

ALSO:
• Sixteen Texas mayors demand a “full public airing” of the events that led to massive power outages, and action to prevent a recurrence in the future. (Austin American-Statesman)
• A Texas district attorney launches a criminal investigation into the power outages to determine whether any individual or entity should be charged. (Austin American-Statesman)
• Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says the state will figure out a way to fix massive power bills for customers with variable pricing plans, but that in the future “people need to read fine print” in such plans. (Newsweek)

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NUCLEAR: The former CEO of SCANA pleads guilty and will spend at least two years in prison for defrauding electric ratepayers in a failed $9 billion effort to expand a nuclear power plant. (Post and Courier)

COAL:
• A federal judge orders bankrupt coal operator Blackjewel to clean up a Kentucky mine where overfull ponds of iron and manganese threaten local drinking water. (Courier Journal)
• West Virginia’s coal association seeks to intervene in a state rate case after Appalachian Power warned it might close a coal-fired power plant in 2028 rather than invest in improvements to keep it open through 2040. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• A Kentucky coal company presses the state to approve operations at one of its mines despite unresolved environmental and reclamation violations that prohibit it from receiving permits. (Lexington Herald Leader)

PIPELINES:
• The Mountain Valley Pipeline tells investors it expects to complete construction by the end of 2021 despite a recent shift to seek individual permits to cross waterways. (Roanoke Times)
• The Appalachian Trail Conservancy declines to release details of its agreement with the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which includes nearly $20 million from the pipeline for conservation and recreation. (The Trek)
• A North Carolina pipeline leaked more than a million gallons of gasoline last summer before anyone noticed it, raising larger questions about pipeline detection technologies that can fail to notice even large-scale spills. (E&E News, subscription)

RENEWABLES:
• Mississippi lawmakers allow local tax breaks to facilitate the construction of a 200 MW wind farm — the state’s first — and a solar power facility. (Mississippi Today)
• Gulf Power begins construction on a solar farm in the Florida panhandle. (Pensacola News Journal)

UTILITIES: Louisiana regulators grill utility executives, especially Entergy, for a lack of clear communication during last week’s power outages. (The Advocate)

GRID:
• Mississippi regulators launch a review of the state grid after last week’s outages across the Southeast. (WTOK)
• Arkansas’ membership in two regional power pools enabled it to limit rolling outages during last week’s winter weather. (Arkansas Business)
• Tennessee residents resist plans by the Tennessee Valley Authority to build new high-voltage lines to support a Facebook data center. (WZTV)

CLIMATE:
• A new study suggests the expense of transitioning to a net-zero carbon economy by 2050 would largely be absorbed by the national economy but might cost Louisiana 30% of its energy related jobs. (NOLA.com)
• North Carolina environmental groups file a petition pressing the state to join 11 others in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. (North Carolina Health News)

OIL & GAS: Oil reaches its highest market price in more than a year, due largely to a freeze in Texas production because of winter weather. (Reuters)

COMMENTARY:
• After thousands of West Virginians lost power for weeks due to weather events in 2003, 2012 and 2021, state regulators must press Appalachian Power for grid improvements, writes a newspaper editorial board. (Huntington Herald-Dispatch)
• Instead of falsely scapegoating renewable energy, Texas leaders must hold themselves accountable for past decisions that led to last week’s blackouts, write state professors. (Austin American-Statesman)

Mason Adams

Mason Adams

Mason has worked as a journalist since 2001, covering Appalachian communities and the issues that affect them. He compiles the Southeast Energy News digest. Mason previously worked as a wildlife biologist before moving into journalism by freelancing at Coast Weekly in Monterey, California, before taking an internship in 2001 at High Country News. He wrote for the Enterprise Mountaineer in western North Carolina and the Roanoke Times in western Virginia before going freelance in 2012. His work has appeared in Southerly, Daily Yonder, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, WVPB’s Inside Appalachia and elsewhere. Mason was born and raised in Clifton Forge, Virginia, and now lives with his family and a small herd of goats in Floyd County, Virginia.